I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) in my right breast in August of 2005. After the numbing fear went away, I jumped into overdrive. I'm lucky to live in a metropolitan area with exceptional medical care. I chose a teaching hospital in Philadelphia, PA. I found a wonderful surgeon and a wonderful oncologist. During my lumpectomy, it was found that the cancer spread to one sentinel node, so my post-surgery treatment included both chemo and radiation. One of the biggest things that happened shortly after diagnosis was finding Breastcancer.org and the chat rooms. Without over-dramatizing, the women (and occasional men) in that room got me through diagnosis, treatment, and the "return to normal" we all hear about with flying colors!
At this point, more than two years later, I still go into the chat rooms. I hope that now, with a bit of hindsight and experience, I might be the one to calm a newly diagnosed patient, or the one to offer friendship to someone who feels alone. No one can understand what we go through except us. It's a club I didn't necessary want to join, but one which I'm now proud to be a part of. I've become much stronger because of having had cancer. Once you have a potentially life-threatening disease and come out of it, you realize there really is nothing more important than health. I hope I'm more empathetic. I know I'm actually healthier because I quit smoking after my diagnosis, something I know I wouldn't have done any time soon if I hadn't been diagnosed. I have gained weight since my diagnosis, but oddly feel that even with that, I'm still healthier overall than I was two and a half years ago. I've said to many people that I'm not at all sorry that I had cancer. It's changed me in ways that I like. I do think that once is enough though :)
Mary (marlegal), 52
October 28, 2007